What: Denzel Curry’s LA Show on his 2055: The ULT Experience tour
When: Friday, March 26th
Where: The Echoplex
I was first hipped to Denzel Curry during his stop in Portland during the 2014 Bow Down tour. I’d taken a group of people on the tour to the Nas: Time Is Illmatic screening in Portland, Oregon for a piece I was working on. Denzel’s manager, Mark Maturah, was one of the people who came along.
Mark told me a bit about Denzel- He’s from Southern Florida, young (19 at the time), hungry, has an alter ego named Raven Miyagi, and had just dropped his debut album Nostalgic 64.
Denzel skipped the movie and stayed behind for sound check, so the first time I got to meet him was right before he took the stage. A brief handshake, from a seemingly shy artist, was all we shared before he hit the stage to rap for the rowdy crowd. Once the lights hit him, he Animorphed into some kind of beast.
“He’s my Nas,” said Mark matter-of-factly, referencing the movie we just saw.
Denzel had an unmistakable star quality. He made the crowd go absolutely ballistic.
Fast Forward two years and Denzel’s just dropped his sophomore album, Imperial, which includes a feature from his fellow South Floridian rapper, Rick Ross. His fan base has grown and so has he (he’s 21 now). Having seen that Denzel and Mark were going to be in town for this year's tour, I hit Mark up. He invited me to come snap some pictures of Denzel’s set during the sold-out show at The Echoplex in Los Angeles. I was stoked to be able to capture the infectious energy the young rapper exudes.
After parking my car near the upstairs entrance ( a rookie mistake) and walking down the pee soaked steps to the Echoplex (if you’ve been, you know exactly what I’m talking about), I walked into the venue to the sound of Denzel’s commanding voice on stage.
“Sheit,” I muttered to myself, thinking I’d missed the majority of his set. Luckily, the door-guy assured me it was his first song.
Security slapped a VIP bracelet on my wrist and I whisked myself away to the backstage area. My glasses immediately fogged up as the humid air hit me. Friends of the C9 click (Denzel’s label) filled the stairs on either side, so I obnoxiously, and slightly blindly, bumped my way to the stage.
I crouched down and snapped away- only shooting one roll of film. I love the aesthetic, but it’s expensive, man. The images below are what I saw.
Needing some air, I ventured into the crowd and stumbled upon my dear friend, Mark. Having spotted him before he saw me, I aimed and shot him, off guard.
“I knew that was you,” he said. “Being creepy with the camera.”
Mark and I meander back to the stage where I snap a few more frames of Denzel, who’s even rowdier than before. I sit criss-cross-applesauce on the stage, transfixed by his energy. No one seems to notice my mid-set-meditation on stage until SDotBraddy comes and crouches next to me. Turns out, everyone is as transifixed as I am.
“Things are about to get real crazy,” Mark warns me.
“This isn’t already real crazy?” I think to myself.
I rise to my feet as Denzel channels Moses, instructing the crowd to divide into two, parting the sea of fans. When the beat drops, both sides clash together, creating one fluid cluster-fuck. He’s created a mosh pit.
Soon after, Denzel jumps on top of the chaos he’s created, and the crowd surfs him back to the stage.
Getting a little too excited, a kid from the crowd makes his way on stage. Denzel drops his mic and attempts to fight him. It’s part adrenaline, part annoyance.
Later, he gets on the mic and sincerely apologizes to the kid but adds, “but don’t get on stage while i’m trying to perform!”
Once the show ends, Denzel makes his way over to the sound-guy who’s been keeping his street clothes safe.
He makes his way from the stage to the back of the venue where his merch booth is set up. Fans cluster around him with their backs to him. Choosing to take selfies with him instead of actually interacting.
Once Denzel has signed and sold merch to the mass of fans waiting to give him their money, security clears everyone out except for the essential crew- Mark, Denzel, the rest of the C9 signees, and myself. I catch Denzel dancing with a friend.
At his core, Denzel is a silly, 21 year-old with A LOT to say, and he happens to rock stages by night. He's a true Master of Ceremony who's on tour from now until the end of April... catch him if you can! Check his schedule out HERE.